On July 12 2009, Pakistan’s 196th Test cricketer – 23-year-old Fawad Alam – received his maiden Test cap.
As the T20 World Cup is scheduled in October-November later this year, the pandemic has made it difficult to continue cricket according to the scheduled plan.
The ICC is trying its best to make this World Cup possible behind closed doors.
Cricket has been postponed since March and now the ECB has announced the schedule for their home series against the West Indies and Pakistan. Also, English players have resumed their training, which could be helpful in resuming the cricket.
For now, if we are assuming that the World Cup will be played at its scheduled time, then what should be the Pakistan team’s combination for the tournament?
T20I stats: 34 innings, 756 runs at 22.9, strike rate 136.7, four fifties
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, 246 runs at 27.33, strike rate 132.97, two fifties
The Champions Trophy final’s hero Fakhar Zaman will be my first-choice opener for the World Cup. He has a strong hand on smashing the balls out of the park in the power play. His strike rate shows the destruction he creates during the first six overs. Currently, his form is against him but I hope this big stage will help him regain his form.
Babar Azam (c)
T20I stats: 38 innings, 1471 runs at 50.7, strike rate 128.1, 13 fifties
PSL 2020 stats: ten innings, 345 runs at 49.28, strike rate 123.65, three fifties
The number one T20I batsman is the captain of Pakistan’s T20 team. Having an average of almost 50, he is the most consistent batsman in the team. If you can’t get him out in the first ten balls, then he will be a headache for the opposition. He was the leading run-scorer of this PSL season.
T20 stats:15 innings, 239 runs at 23.1, strike rate 148.3, one fifty
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, 239 runs at 29.87, strike rate 158.27, one fifty
The uncapped player Haider Ali is the phenomenal talent discovered from PSL. He has represented Peshawar Zalmi in this PSL and scored 239 runs with the exceptional strike rate of 158.27, which would help him getting the World Cup spot. He had a very handy role in Peshawar Zalmi reaching the playoffs.
Zeeshan Ashraf (wicketkeeper)
T20 stats: 32 innings, 169 runs at 18.8, strike rate 120.6, three fifties
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, 169 runs at 18.77, strike rate 133.07, two fifties
Zeeshan Ashraf is the wicketkeeper-batsman who has represented Multan Sultans in this season. He has played the first half of the season down the order, which is why his stats don’t impress. He has scored two fifties batting as an opener. He is my back-up opener as well as back-up wicketkeeper for the World Cup.
Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper)
T20I stats: 41 innings, 812 runs at 28, strike rate 126.7, three fifties
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, 148 runs at 21.14, strike rate 128.69, two fifties
The ex-captain of Pakistan Sarfaraz Ahmed is my first-choice wicketkeeper for the World Cup. He has spent most of his career playing down the order, which doesn’t justify his talent. I want him to bat at number four and use his experience to carry the innings. He has scored two fifties in this PSL season with the strike rate of 128.69.
T20I stats:105 innings, 2321 runs at 31.4, strike rate 123.9, eight fifties
PSL 2020 stats: seven innings, 239 runs at 29.87, strike rate 158.27, one fifty
Shoaib Malik is the most experienced player in Pakistan’s team. Not only in international cricket, he is the most valuable player in the foreign leagues also. He had a good PSL season, scoring 239 runs with an impressive strike rate of 158.27. He can do the finishing role and help the team with one or two extra overs.
T20I stats: seven innings, 166 runs at 55.3, strike rate 141, one fifty
PSL 2020 stats: eight innings, 79 runs at 13,16, strike rate 129.50, no fifties
Iftikhar Ahmed is the batting all-rounder who has made his debut very recently in international cricket. He has solidified his spot after the Australia series last year when he adopted the finisher’s role and finished some exciting games. He will be one of my finishers in the World Cup.
T20 stats: 12 innings, 196 runs at 24.5, strike rate 125.8, one fifty
PSL 2020 stats: eight innings, 175 runs at 43.75, strike rate 147.05, one fifty
The left-arm player who has represented Multan Sultans this year debuted against Australia last year. He has the strong ability to finish the games single-handedly and can bowl a few overs. His firepower was seen on the last day of the PSL 2020 where he scored 70 not out in just 29 balls against Lahore Qalandars.
T20I stats: 14 innings, 122 runs at 13.6, strike rate 127.1
38 innings, 48 wickets at 20.9: economy 7.03
PSL 2020 stats: eight innings, 263 runs at 37.57, strike rate 159.39, three fifties
Nine innings, eight wickets at 29.37 runs, economy 8.24
The young leg spinner Shadab Khan is the most key bowler of Pakistan. Besides his unorthodox bowling, he can add some valuable runs in the batting. He has improved his batting and batted at number four in this PSL season. He has scored 263 runs with the fabulous strike rate of 159.39. He is a genuine wicket-taker and can be the X-factor of the Pakistan team in the World Cup.
T20I stats: 30 innings, 267 runs at 12.7, strike rate 145
42 innings, 24 wickets at 21.6, economy 5.97
PSL 2020 stats: six innings, 121 runs at 30.25, strike rate 127.36, one fifty
Nine innings, five wickets at 41.60, strike rate 7.47
Another spinner in my team is Imad Wasim. The duo of Imad and Shadab was very dangerous at the start of their career but then with time their fear began to fade away. Imad had a disaster PSL season, picking up just five wickets in nine matches, but Australian wickets suit him and he will be my back-up spinner for the World Cup.
T20I stats: 48 innings, 59 wickets at 20.7, economy 6.96
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, ten wickets at 15.30, economy 6.80
After retiring from Test cricket, Amir’s focus is just on limited-overs cricket. He is the most lethal bowler with the new ball and swinging the ball away from the batsman is his specialty. Besides having strong power play overs, he has the perfect yorkers with full pace to destroy the opposition at the death. No one can forget his spell in the Champions Trophy final where Pakistan lifted the trophy.
Shaheen Shah Afridi
T20I stats: 12 innings, 16 wickets at 20.8, economy 7.23
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, 13 wickets at 18.92, economy 7.02
Shaheen is the young guy who has made his name in a very short span of time. The six-foot-six paceman had a dream 2019 World Cup where he picked up 16 wickets and was the youngest bowler to take a five-for in the World Cup. He is an exceptional talent and currently the spearhead of Pakistan’s bowling. His height helps him a lot in reverse swinging the ball in the last overs.
T20 stats:22 innings, 32 wickets at 21.6, economy 8.23
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, 15 wickets at 19.13, economy 8.96
Another surprising talent with an ability to bowl above 150 kilometres per hour is another youngster in my line-up. As Pakistan is known for being a pace factory, this 20-year-old is the best exponent of this. From just warming the bench in the 2019 World Cup to becoming the highest wicket-taker in this PSL, he had an amazing transformation. He will surprise everyone in the World Cup and is the player to look for.
T20I stats: 30 innings, 30 wickets at 27.1, economy 8
PSL 2020 stats: nine innings, 11 wickets at 23.18, economy 8.01
One of Pakistan’s most experienced bowlers Wahab Riaz should be in the World Cup, which is to be played in Australia. He has pace, bouncers and yorkers, which makes him the perfect bowler. He would be very useful in Australian conditions using his pace.
T20 stats: 32 innings, 44 wickets at 19.70, economy 7.91
PSL 2020 stats: five innings, three wickets at 64.66, economy 10.77
The BBL sensation Haris Rauf has made its impact on international media after this BBL season. He was picked as the replacement of Dale Steyn and then picked up 20 wickets in the tournament. His exceptional performances made him earn the spot in the national team against Bangladesh. But he lost his form badly and had a disaster PSL season where he played just five matches and picked up three wickets. As he played BBL and is familiar with the Australian conditions, he should be in the World Cup squad.
Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (c), Haider Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Muhammad Hasnain.